17.41: Picture Books are Books Too, with Special Guest Seth Fishman

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler, with special guest Seth Fishman

Seth Fishman, author of seven picture books (as well as lots of longer-form stuff), joins us to talk about writing picture books, including some of the business and publication aspects.

No-Context Pull Quote: “Your art is so bad we’re going to hire someone to draw badly for you.”

Credits: This episode was recorded live by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Explore the picture book area in your local bookstore. See how it’s laid out, and have a look at some classic picture books. Then write a 500-word SF/F picture book.

BAD DRAWER, by Seth Fishman (and friends), illustrated by Jessixa Bagley , Armand Baltazar, Anna Bond, Travis Foster), Jessica Hische, Tillie Walden, and Ethan Young, (with a pair of trees drawn by the author.)

17.40: Questions & Answers About Structure, with Special Guest Peng Shepherd

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Howard Tayler, with special guest Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd joined us aboard Liberty of the Seas for WXR 2022, and returned with us to the topic of story structures. In this episode we answer questions from our live audience. The questions include:

  1. How do you make sure you’ve got the right number of plot threads?
  2. How do you spread the structure of a given plot line across multiple books?
  3. How do you avoiding having subplots distract readers from the main plot?
  4. What are some strategies you can use to better align character goals with the overall problem of the story?
  5. Are there clear dos and don’ts with regard to story structure?
  6. How do you prepare or color-code bits for running a role-playing game? More broadly: what organizational tools do you use for story structure?

For the answers, you’ll have to give the episode a listen…

Credits: This episode was recorded live by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write a piece of fiction (or an outline) outside your usual length. See how that changes your structural choices.

The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal
(pre-order now! It releases on October 11th!)

17.39: Writing Bodies and Intimacy, with K.M. Szpara

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette Kowal, Dongwon Song, Piper J. Drake,  & Howard Tayler, with special guest K. M. Szpara

CONTENT WARNING: this episode is about adult acts and adult bodies, and we won’t be using euphemisms. 

K.M. Szpara joined us at WXR 2022 for this discussion of writing bodies and intimacy, with a particular focus on which kinds of words to use for things.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr. before a live audience aboard Liberty of the Seas. It was mastered by Alex Jackson.

 

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Write a scene in which a character is undressing, either alone or with others.

First Become Ashes, by K.M. Szpara

17.38: Oh No I Lost The Thread

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, C.L. Polk, Marshall Carr, Jr., and Mary Robinette Kowal

Oh no! You’ve put the project down for long enough that you’ve lost your place in it! Whatever will you do?

For starters, you can listen to this episode. We’ve been there, and one of us is there right now. We talk about the different problems you’re likely facing, and how to overcome them in order to find the thread and get moving again.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Write down what you think the current thread is, then re-read your work until the point at which you left off.  Write down what the current thread now seems to be, and then reconcile the difference.

The Liminal People, by Ayize Jama-Everett

17.37: Science and Fiction—It’s Not Just Science Fiction

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Cady Coleman

The fictional side of science and the scientific side of fiction are part of the discipline of science communication, often called SciComm. In this episode Cady Coleman joins us to talk about how science fiction fits into the field of SciComm, and how the stories we tell can affect the people who read them.

Credits: This episode was recorded before a live audience by Rob Kowal, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Find something you wish were real. Write a story in which it is.

For All Mankind (TV Series), on Apple TV

17.36: Space for Everyone

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Cady Coleman

Chemist, USAF Colonel, and NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman joins us to talk about actual travel to actual space, and how that’s a thing which is increasingly available to people who are not in the employ of government space agencies. Also, we discuss how the demographics of space travelers are changing, and how this is creating safer space travel for everyone.

Credits: This episode was recorded before a live audience by Rob Kowal, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Write about sending a “non-traditional astronaut” to space. Oh, and bringing them back. We’re astronaut-ing, not yeeting.

Mission Interplanetary, a podcast from Cady Colman and Andrew Maynard

17.35: Nuances of Dialog

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler

We wrap up our eight-episode dialog master class with a discussion of nuance, which is difficult to describe in a blurb because it’s… well, nuanced. That may sound a bit recursive, but our discussion dives deep into the meta.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Create a word list for each of your characters – words only they will use, and words they share.

Unfadeable, by Maurice Broaddus

17.34: Developing Subtext

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler

We begin this episode with a quick exploration of the terminology, and what we mean when we say “text,” “context,” and “subtext.” Subtext exists between text and context. It’s the information which isn’t actually in the text, but which we are able to divine based on the context. And in this episode we talk about how to use context and text to provide subtext to the reader.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Grab a scene with dialog. Delete every third line of dialog, and then go back and try to use non-verbal cues to make the scene still make sense.

The Lies of the Ajungo, Moses Ose Utomi